What Is RMM? The Definition and the Best RMM Tools

By Staff Contributor on December 24, 2020

As a managed services provider (MSP), remote monitoring and management (RMM) is likely one of the key services you offer to customers in order to secure and maintain their IT systems. RMM, also referred to as network management, requires advanced tools that enable MSPs to improve customers’ IT operations remotely. This guide will provide a comprehensive definition for RMM, highlighting why it’s a must-have for most modern companies and outlining the key features included with PSA and RMM tools.

To help MSPs make RMM decisions and choose the platform that’s right for them, we’ll also look at some of the best RMM tools available on the market today. This RMM software comparison will help you choose tools that are user-friendly, versatile, scalable, and—most importantly—suited to your individual requirements.

What is RMM software?

As its name suggests, RMM involves two key components—remote monitoring and remote management. To be more specific, the remote management component of RMM refers to managing a computer or network from a remote location. This involves installing software and managing any activities on a customers’ workstations, servers, systems, network, or endpoints.

Remote monitoring, on the other hand, refers to monitoring network operational activities for customers with the help of remote devices or probes. This helps MSPs deliver efficient network infrastructure control and maintenance. The process of remote monitoring involves collecting information types, such as bytes sent, packets sent, and so on. This information is then used to understand network user traffic and bandwidth levels, and is usually accompanied by real-time alerts to keep MSPs apprised of any network issues.

Professional services automation (PSA) can also be considered a key partner to RMM, and plays a critical role in many MSP operations and activities. PSA software helps MSPs track completion of work and customer information, even assisting with tickets and invoices. PSA solutions are highly versatile, providing a central repository for all the information related to MSP processes, assets, billing time, clients, inventory, and much more.

The best RMM tools will offer a wide range of features, including but not limited to automating tasks, monitoring devices and systems, and increasing security through antivirus and patch management. PSA tools can often then be integrated with an RMM solution to minimize costs and boost efficiency, as well as reducing the likelihood of human error.

Why is RMM a must-have for MSPs?

For today’s MSPs, RMM software should be considered essential. Whether you’re moving from break-fix to managed services in an effort to establish recurring revenue, or taking on additional customers and looking for increased capabilities, RMM software can streamline the process and dramatically improve your likelihood of success.

RMM software gives you crucial visibility into your customers’ software, hardware, and network environments. This lets you proactively monitor IT environments and helps you respond to any issues that occur quickly and efficiently. The best RMM tools on the market will enable you to identify potential issues even before they occur, allowing you to respond proactively and deliver an exceptional customer experience. With RMM software considered an MSP stable, very few companies can afford to be without RMM and PSA tools if they hope to remain competitive.

The many other benefits associated with implementing PSA and RMM tools include:

  • The ability to leverage enterprise-grade automation
  • Detecting problems before they cause critical system failure
  • Assisting with systematic management of customer IT requirements
  • Ensuring optimal network stability and performance
  • Enhancing customer system performance
  • Extending the lifespan of client devices and systems
  • Ensuring better end-user productivity
  • Improving customer satisfaction and retention
  • Helping MSPs expand their customer base

What is the best RMM tool?

Now that we’ve defined RMM, let’s look at the best RMM tools currently on the market. To help you decide, this RMM software comparison will consider things like user-friendliness, suitability for business use, and range and sophistication of features.

SolarWinds RMM

SolarWinds® RMM delivers a comprehensive suite of IT services designed to help MSPs manage, monitor, and secure networks—all from within a unified, web-based console. RMM provides exceptional security and data-driven insights, with features ranging from web protection and antivirus to risk intelligence and patch management. 

This tool was designed specifically for MSPs and offers service providers access to everything they need to serve customers from one powerful solution. It allows technicians to hit the ground running with out-of-the-box monitoring templates, and features like automatic device discovery help ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. In short, RMM’s intuitive user interface and consolidated dashboard simplifies remote monitoring and management for MSPs.

To protect your customers from both known and emerging threats, RMM offers an integrated Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) feature. This lets you scan files continuously in real-time, preventing malicious content from infiltrating your network. When threats are identified, machine learning technology helps you respond quickly and efficiently. The NetPath feature visualizes network performance in the form of a map, which makes it possible to rapidly identify connectivity problems.

Finally, another major benefit of choosing SolarWinds RMM is that it can be extended with any number of additional SolarWinds products, such as SolarWinds Take Control or SolarWinds Mail Assure. Take Control is remote support software while Mail Assure offers email protection and security. You can also integrate RMM with SolarWinds MSP Manager, delivering the PSA and RMM integration that allows MSPs to provide prompt and proactive service, allocate resources effectively, and efficiently bill customers.

This comprehensive tool tops our list of the best RMM tools because of its deep visibility, its intuitive consolidated dashboard, and its powerful integrations. A 30-day free trial is available.

  1. SolarWinds N-central

N-central® is another all-in-one SolarWinds solution that offers many of the same capabilities as RMM but is geared toward a slightly different audience. N-central is available as either an on-premises or hosted option, and is ideal for multi-site, large enterprises looking to leverage automation to rapidly scale and expand their services.

N-central is designed to help you comprehensively monitor and manage Windows, Mac, Linux, virtual machines, and network devices. This RMM solution offers a range of advanced capabilities covering everything an MSP might need to remotely monitor and manage customers’ systems and networks. Some of N-central’s best features include powerful automation tools (to help you onboard, configure, and patch hundreds of devices), the ability to customize scripts to meet specific customer or device-type needs, proactive alerts, and self-healing capabilities.

N-central can help you resolve issues quickly with robust remote support, increase customer uptime, and improve technician efficiency. This solution streamlines your service delivery by allowing you to organize your customers through a single consolidated dashboard.

Like SolarWinds RMM, N-central can also be extended with tools like SolarWinds Take Control, Mail Assure, and Passportal. A 30-day free trial is available for MSPs interested in learning more.

NinjaRMM

NinjaRMM is an RMM solution that offers real-time monitoring for Mac and Windows computers. It also offers support for more than 120 applications, including Dropbox and Java, making it possible for MSPs to remotely automate patches for customer networks.

NinjaRMM provides endpoint security management capabilities, allowing you to manage the deployment of Webroot throughout the network. From a central location, you can schedule scans and manage security audits, ensuring that your endpoints are safeguarded against even the latest security threats.

This RMM solution also features remote access capabilities. Users can connect to remote devices and start or stop Windows services, uninstall software, kill processes, and run custom scripts. A free trial is available.

Paessler PRTG Network Monitor

Paessler PRTG Network Monitor is a unified network monitoring tool that also offers a range of other capabilities, including remote monitoring. This sensor-based solution allows you to configure sensors to manage and monitor customer IT infrastructure, such as SNMP devices, servers, cloud services, and applications.

One of PRTG’s best features is its alerts system, which uses threshold-based alerts to keep you informed. The ability to configure alerts to suit your needs—and your customers’ needs—is a very useful feature. PRTG users can choose to be notified via email, SMS messages, Slack messages, push notifications, and SNMP traps.

This enterprise-grade solution allows you to use 100 sensors for free. Alternatively, a 30-day free trial of the unlimited edition is also available.

Atera

Atera is a popular RMM software solution that can automatically scan a network for devices and add them to the platform to be monitored. Scanning is continuous, ensuring that any other devices added to the network at a later date are also discovered.

Atera features a ticketing system, comprehensive remote access capabilities, and offers TLS and 256-bit AES encryption for all sessions. This tool also provides integration with QuickBooks Online and Xero. A free trial is available.

Identifying the RMM solution to meet your needs

Finding the right tool that best suits your MSP can be challenging, but hopefully this guide will have given you some insight into which RMM tool might be the right fit for you. When making your decision, we recommend testing out free trials to get familiar with the tools and considering which options offer the most integrations and scalability to serve you well in the years to come. After all, remote monitoring and management is a fundamental element of any MSP’s toolkit, and investing in the right solution is a decision that can keep your business competitive as you grow.

Looking to learn more about RMM? Be sure to read about Best RMM Software and also about How to Make the Most of RMM and PSA Tools.

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